Customer satisfaction with firms ‘sees longest decline since records started’

Customer satisfaction levels across a range of brands have endured the longest period of decline since records started in 2008, according to a report.

John Lewis, First Direct, Next, Nationwide and Amazon came out top for customer service in the latest report compiled by the Institute of Customer Service, despite their scores having fallen over the past year.

The report measures customer service in the UK, with a survey of 10,000 consumers every six months.

People are asked to give their verdicts on brands they have had dealings with, from a range of more than 250.

Customers are asked about different aspects of brands, including customer ethos, the experience they offer, ethics and complaints handling.

Overall customer service satisfaction level across all brands was at 76.9, the lowest since July 2015.

Satisfaction levels fell for the fifth time in a row – the longest period of decline since the data was first tracked in 2008.

Jo Causon, chief executive at the Institute of Customer Service, said: “Today’s figures are not cause for celebration. This is the longest continuous run of declining customer service in the history of our index.

“Despite individual best efforts, organisations are struggling to cater for customers.

“Excellent service is not just a collection of transactional experiences that can be turned on and off at will. The most effective organisations demonstrate agility, innovation and a consistent and constant realignment with purpose.”

John Lewis topped the UK Customer Service Index (UKCSI), with an overall customer satisfaction score of 85.6 out of 100.

Online and telephone bank First Direct and high street brand Next follow, with 85.4 and 85.1 respectively.

Building society Nationwide (85.0) and online retailer Amazon (84.1) follow.

The report found the retail, insurance, public services and utilities sectors have seen particularly big falls in customer satisfaction over the past year.

By contrast, the telecommunications and media sector has continued an improving trend. Its score of 74.8 is the sector’s highest since July 2013.

The report also suggested many customers want better service and are willing to pay for it.

Over a quarter (26%) said they were willing to pay more for excellent service, while just 14% said they would prefer the cheapest options, even if it meant sacrificing service.

The top 10 rated organisations in January 2020, with the overall score out of 100 followed by the score change since January 2019:

1. John Lewis, 85.6, minus 0.9
2. First Direct, 85.4, minus 1.3
3. Next, 85.1, minus 0.7
4. Nationwide, 85.0, minus 0.4
=5., 84.1, minus 1.3
=5. Suzuki, 84.1, 1.1
=7. Debenhams, 83.8, 1.5
=7. Ikea, 83.8, 5.1
=7. Superdrug, 83.8, 4.8
10. LV=, 83.3, minus 0.6